Valentine’s Day; a celebration of all things romantic, or a reminder that perhaps your relationship isn’t as shiny and bright as it once was? Thanks to endless adverts, magazine articles and pictures of ‘in-love’ celebrities, when it comes to 14th February, it’s easy to allow our expectations to exceed reality when it comes to relations with our significant other.

Of course, real life isn’t like the movies, and for many people, Valentine’s Day represents a major milestone following a post-Christmas split from a partner or spouse, and for others it can act as a catalyst or a prompt to call time on a difficult or loveless marriage.

Our clients often mention a sense of disappointment in the circumstances they find themselves when they initially take advice about divorce, and this isn’t only during February but throughout each year. This is often not only in the sense that their relationship hasn’t worked out, but also sometimes in the fact that their marriage simply ended up somewhere different to where they were expecting. Of course, life throws all sorts of challenges at us – illness, death, disability, redundancy and failed businesses; and under pressure, sadly even the strongest relationships can strain and crumble.

The stresses and challenges of living with and bringing up children – young or old or whether your own children or step-children – can also contribute to relationship breakdown, and sometimes things just ‘don’t work out’. In these circumstances there’s often nobody to blame, and divorce is just a natural progression from the end of that relationship.

In circumstances where couples have drifted apart, or simply fallen out of love, the collaborative law process can really help. Because it is founded upon principles of negotiation and avoiding conflict, the parties are typically more likely to reach agreements that suit each other, and with care and sensitivity, the process can help to avoid bitterness or conflict between ex-spouses.

So although a romantic divorce may be a step too far out of the realms of possibility, the collaborative law process can help to provide the grounding for a respectful and amicable separation.